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Cape Town - Producer and designer Fred Abrahamse started his career at The People’s Space, as a founding member of Troupe Theatre Company. He was also artistic director of the Baxter Theatre. His theatre involvement spans 26 years and more than 80 productions. He has directed dramas, opera, musicals, cabarets and several community theatre groups.
How widely have you travelled?
I have been to the UK, Europe, India, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Mauritius, Namibia, Maputo, Canada, several states in the US, South America, New Zealand, Australia and Japan – I have been lucky to see quite a bit of the world.
Where was your favourite holiday or time spent abroad?
New York. To live in that city for two months is an experience I will never forget and long to repeat. The art, the theatre, the music, the architecture, the food, the shopping and most of all, the people.
Then the complete opposite – I love the complete isolation and wonderful surprises of the Namibian desert. I love them both.
Your worst experience on a holiday?
I never really had an awful travel experience. It’s always an adventure. I love observing people and their culture. Even spending hours in transit at an airport can be fun.
Your funniest experience?
In Japan with absolutely no understanding of Japanese I tried to buy a pet tree crab. The vendor just kept trying to explain, in English better than my Japanese, that it was a “childlen pet”.
Having ascertained this, I tried to ask what this pet tree crab would subsist on.
No joy. I tried the international sign language and rubbed my tummy and made eating gestures. The vendor’s eyes shot open in horror and he yelled at me, “No eat… childlen pet!” The more I tried the more irate he got.
In the end I gave up and just asked how much for the little critter but he refused to sell it to me because he was convinced I was going to eat it.
What do you avoid during a holiday?
Strange and exotic cuisine and anything that I don’t see coming out of a capped bottle. I have had some horrendous times in India.
Best meal abroad?
A Kobe beef steak in Japan – I have never eaten something that tasty, tender or expensive.
Your favourite place to have sundowners on your travels?
Amsterdam. I love sitting along the canals, watching the world pass by. And how the flow of people – on water, on foot and on bicycles – changes from work to play mode. Then it’s night and that city comes alive.
Yet again, good old South Africa, especially Cape Town, has afforded me some of the most memorable sunsets with tremendous company and superb wine.
Ideal travelling companion?
I love travelling alone. I am totally selfish and don’t like having to conform to what the group wants to do. If something grabs me – a museum or a park – I want to dwell. I hate having to compromise the experience by accommodating others. In fact I have had a “worst travelling experience”. I travelled through the US with a small group of friends. Needless to say we didn’t stay friendly for long, but have remained lifetime friends. It was an appalling trip.
Culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
Definitely a culture vulture. There is nothing more rewarding than experiencing the people of a foreign country. I find it enriches me and opens me up to a better understanding of the planet and its inhabitants – and ultimately myself and my journey through life.
Some of my best experiences have been with simple, ordinary everyday folk far from the touristy stuff.
Greatest travel luxury?
Flying business class on Emirates.
I don’t read on holiday – how rude… my novel is far more interesting than exploring your country.
New York to Canada when the leaves are changing and the rivers, the national parks and lakes along the way make it a worthwhile trip.
I have never been to China. I really want to go for longer than a quick tourist trip. It is on my “must go” list, followed by Russia.
As a seasoned traveller and flyer can you share some tips?
If you fly cheap don’t be afraid to use the transit hotels/lounges at airports like Heathrow. You don’t have to be a platinum first-class flyer to use some of them. Once you check in, the private bathrooms, endless free fresh food and drinks make it so worthwhile. And you start the next leg refreshed and energised. Check them out online before you travel and budget for it. It’s well worth it.
Back to the US next year and hopefully a stint in New York again. - Weekend Argus